PDCA Cycle: 4 steps to improve processes

Quality Tools - PDCA Cycle in Excel
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PDCA cycle is an iterative method of quality management used to continuously improve processes, products or services. Its initials illustrate quite well the four stages of PDCA cycle: "P" - Plan, D, Do, C, Check, A, Act. It is also known as Deming cycle or wheel, Shewhart cycle, control cycle or PDSA (plan-do-study-act).

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What is PDCA Cycle?

PDCA is a methodology that values ​​the culture of continuous improvement in the company. It is a type of interactive management method, used both for control and for constant products improvement, services and processes in general.

Why use it? Those who wish to improve the management of their company on an ongoing basis need to know, as soon as possible, the PDCA methodology - Plan, Do, Check, Act. Made up of four stages, it enables you to develop constant improvements in your company.

PDCA Cycle

How to do it? The practical application of this methodology can be done in any company with the use of a PDCA Cycle Worksheet. Below we will check the 4 steps and how this application should be done.

How To Make PDCA

Before diving into the PDCA cycle, you need to choose one of the fundamental processes of the company. Any of them: sales process, production of a product, delivery of a service, financial closure, anyway, it is up to the user to choose what needs more attention.

Cycle PDCA and its 4 steps

Do not bother to be too meticulous in choosing, because the idea of ​​the PDCA methodology is that will be included in the corporate culture forever. In other words, all the processes will end up being considered in the end.

Every process has bottlenecks and it is on them that the cycle acts. What is the bottleneck that you believe that is messing up the process the most? Use indicators to measure the losses of each step of the process. Measurement can be done in a few ways:

a) Loss on conversion

It is very common to analyze the efficiency of a negotiation and sales process, for example, by the convertion between the stages. A contact, or lead, as some companies like to call, goes through several steps until a contract is closed. Where's the biggest loss? A sale process can consist on Calling> Meeting> Proposal> Contract. If most leads give up on the Proposal step, it is likely to have more relevant bottlenecks.

PDCA more than a methodology, a true anti-flame vest

b) Time loss

Some processes do not have conversion between the steps, such as accounting closure. However they are processes that need to meet a deadline within the companies' monthly or annual schedule. In this type of activity, you can identify the bottlenecks from how long each step lasts. It is very common to realize, for example, that the financial team spends a lot of time identifying accounts from other areas when it comes to bank reconciliation. In this case, the PDCA cycle can perfectly act on the communication between the areas with the bottlenecks.

c) Loss through waste

In processes linked to the production of products, efficiency is usually measured through the waste generated at each step. Measuring the steps that generate more losses and acting on the bottlenecks that contributeto those losses is another way of using the PDCA cycle.

Stages of the PDCA Cycle

After going through this preliminary phase, we finally start the cycle. It is formed by four steps:

1. Planning

The first step of the PDCA cycle consists in establishing plans to eliminate the bottlenecks that are being addressed, as expected in terms of goals for the organization and the process.

PDCA cycle - planning - financial area

When expectations are set at an early stage of the management process, the coherence, the continuity and the accuracy of the elements set execution are, themselves, the goals. It is interesting to start in a small and controlled way in order to be able to perform tests for effects.

PDCA more than a methodology, a true anti-flame vest

You can verify in this step changes in how things are done, involvement of more or less people and the use of accessory tools. The important thing is to think about the small tests that can be done from these resolutions before aiming at big changes in the company.

2. Do

This is, in fact, the phase that involves more "hand work" of the PDCA methodology. In this fase all and each one of the plans defined in the PDCA first step must be performed. Data collection should also be done in this step - although this data information is only used in later stages.

Cycle pdca - example in practice - execution

3. Check

It is time to study and analyze deeply the data collected in the Do. From this, a fairly accurate comparison can be made of what was obtained and what was expected in the Plan phase. Differences must be taken into account - whether positive or negative, in order to analyze in a critical way the whole process.

how to use pdca cycle to improve service - verification

4. Act

In the last step of the PDCA method all possible measures will be taken to correct the route and possible distortions that would have diverted the obtained results, determining the causes.

If there is nothing to be improved, the methodology can be a little more detailed, in order to put into practice possible improvements, in the moment of repetition of one of the phases.

Normally in the Act step there are two possible outcomes. The first is to accept that the cycle worked in terms of easing the bottlenecks. In this way, the proposed changes must be implemented and rooted in the company culture. The cycle must be done again by contemplating other processes or bottlenecks.

PDCA cycle - action - process implementation - financial areaPDCA cycle - share - financial area

The second possible result is to realize that the proposed plans did not solve the contemplated bottlenecks, probably due to errors of diagnosis. In this case, the cycle must be repeated focusing on the same process or bottleneck. Unless the team in charge believes the process is ripe enough.

PDCA Cycle Sheet

Did you find this management approach interesting? So take advantage that we have developed a PDCA cycle sheet to optimize the whole improvement process of the company. Fundamental to business routines, this product meets your expectations, facilitating the professional activities of all employees involved in quality processes.

With the PDCA spreadsheet you can intuitively identify causes of management problems, as well as draw up effective action plans to control them.

PDCA Cycle

PDCA Cycle - Practical Examples:

1. Using the PDCA cycle to undertake
2. Using the PDCA Cycle to Improve Financial Management
3. Using the PDCA cycle to improve care
4. How we use the PDCA cycle to sell more
5. Using the PDCA Cycle to Improve Stock Control

Excel Spreadsheets


  1. […] The PDCA cycle is extremely known worldwide as a quality tool, but the truth is that it is essential for executing strategies, precisely because it is based on a cycle of 4 steps that will test in the end if you are doing that activity well enough or you need to start over. Therefore, it can be used for everything and any model of the Management System, including, as a logical basis for structuring and implementing a Food Safety Management System. […]

  2. The model PDCA bears a certain name of applications différenciées et notre tableur vous permet de résoudre des problèmes, d'améliorer les procesus et toute autre activité souhaitée


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